While in theory there are many ways to control your PC, in practice most applications assume you’ll be using a mouse. And that’s just fine, unless your mouse is broken, the battery is flat, or maybe you can’t use one at all. And suddenly “point and click” doesn’t seem quite so easy any more.
NeatMouse can help to restore (almost) normal operations, though, by allowing you to emulate a mouse with your keyboard. You’ll be able to move it around, spin the scroll wheel, then left, right or middle-click, all with a keypress. It’s great for replacing a faulty mouse, but can also be used just occasionally, whenever you need to position your mouse cursor with pixel precision.
The program arrives as a tiny (404KB) download. By default NeatMouse will install itself on your system, but there’s no adware or other hassles, and you can opt to unpack a portable version if you prefer.
The NeatMouse interface is, well, a little cluttered. It allows you to decide exactly which key you’d like to use for every mouse action (cursor up/ down/ left/ right/ diagonals, scroll up/ down, left/ right/ middle clicks), as well as defining cursor speeds and assorted other options, which makes for an intimidating look.
The simplest way to start is probably to accept the default settings, minimise NeatMouse, then activate it by pressing Scroll Lock. A system tray alert should tell you it’s working, and if you then turn Num Lock on you’ll be able to use the cursor keys to move the mouse cursor around. Restore the NeatMouse window if you need reminding of the other keys, or would like to change them.
None of this is particularly revolutionary. Windows’ own Mouse Keys (Control Panel > Ease of Access Centre > Change how your mouse works > Turn on Mouse Keys) does much the same thing, and is probably smarter in some ways (it allows you to configure mouse acceleration, so the cursor speeds up as you hold a key).
NeatMouse does have some plus points, though. It can be used to emulate the scroll wheel. There’s support for two speeds, so you can move quickly most of the time, switching to slow when you need real precision. It’s much more configurable, and can be run as a portable program, which makes it far easier to use on other people’s systems. We would still try Mouse Keys first, but if it doesn’t suit your needs then NeatMouse should be next on your list.